President Rodrigo Roa Duterte arrives at the Vnukovo Military Base Airport in Moscow, Russian Federation.
Alfred Frias/Presidential Photo
Mocha, 15 Cabinet execs join Duterte in Russia trip
Christina Mendez (The Philippine Star) - October 3, 2019 - 12:00am

MOSCOW – Barely a week in office as Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA) deputy administrator, controversial blogger Margaux “Mocha” Uson has joined President Duterte and 15 other Cabinet officials for a five-day state visit here.

Uson, whose appointment was met with mixed reactions, was quick to post a photo of herself on the plane with the President and other officials that left Manila at 9:06 p.m. Tuesday.

“Pa-take off na po. Maraming salamat po Tatay sa tiwala. Kitakits po mga kababayan natin sa Russia. Ipanalangin po natin ang ating mahal na Tatay Digong,” she said on Facebook.

The former sexy dancer is expected to rouse the Filipino workers and executives who will be attending the Filipino community activity here on Friday.

Uson’s appointment to a government post has raised questions from poll watchdogs and civil society groups on its validity in light of the yearlong constitutional ban on appointment of defeated election candidates to government posts.

Duterte appointed Uson last Sept. 23, barely four months after she lost her bid to become a party-list representative during last May’s polls.

After her bitter loss, Uson repeatedly sought the limelight, having been spotted in a number of government activities like the Armed Forces change of command last month at the AFP General Headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

Prior to the May polls, Uson drew public lashing over her naughty “federalism” video with a fellow blogger.

Following Uson’s appointment, militant migrant workers’ groups questioned her qualifications to represent the overseas Filipino worker.

Uson’s previous actions were not only “contradictory” to the mandate of the OWWA but also “detrimental” to migrant workers, Migrante said.

Meanwhile, Duterte and his party arrived at 3:35 a.m. (local time) here at the Vnukovo military base, where Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Philippine Ambassador to Russia Carlos Sorreta welcomed them.

Among the Cabinet delegation are Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, Agriculture Secretary William Dar, Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña and Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi.

Also with the delegation are Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Secretary to the Cabinet Karlo Nograles.

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, meanwhile, was appointed anew as the country’s officer-in-charge, acting for and on behalf of Duterte “if necessary,” except on matters that require the President’s presence under the Constitution. – With Robertzon Ramirez

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